Some of you know that besides Debian I'm also volunteering in the germans national association of public transport users. A few know that I'm a press officer for more than 15 years on the local level, and more than 10 years on the national level. As that, I've had my fair deal (or even more) of issues and experiences (and also seen how other organisations deal with that). Some recent discussions have convinced me to write up my experiences, and try to clarify some common misunderstandings - press communications is very different from normal open source stuff.

One of the most important things to respect as an press officer is the proper division of tasks: As press officer I'm not making the decisions nor do I communicate them to the inside. I'm "only" communicating them to the outside, and trying to get the focus of the media set right. That doesn't mean I'm not discussing afairs with the responsible persons for the decisions, and giving advise (and sometimes I'm also voicing an opinion as delegate to the national council - but that's non-public then). But in the end, they need to decide which decision is the right one. Disagreeing with a decision only allows me two ways to handle them: Either ignore my disagreement and still distribute the decision (and that means also publically welcome). Or to step back.

To avoid misunderstandings, one usually considers at the beginning how critical and how much potential for trouble a position statement has. Depending on that one decides how many people need to review a position statement before handing it out - next to no position statement goes out unreviewed. It is always recommended to let any position statement be signed off by the people responsible for the decision. (But in constrast to signed-off patches, never tell in public who did review and sign-off a position statement - either the organisation has decided it according to their internal governance process, then the decision is proper and signed off by the organisation as whole. Or it isn't, then there is no position statement.)

Asking the press officers to make their own decisions and contradicting the decisions as taken by the governancy rules is counter-productive: This will at best only lead to confusion to the outside, and unnecessary conflicts on the inside. Usually it will get way worse though.

Looking at Debians press team, I'm quite happy to say that they work in a very good way. Please continue to keep up your good work.